Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor
From Fox News:
Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.
Scouting for All is a 100% Volunteer 501-(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization. Every dollar donated goes toward our education and advocacy programs, and is tax deductible.
Statement from More Light Presbyterians on the Boy Scouts of America
March 7, 2001
More Light Presbyterians, a group seeking the full participation of LGBT people of faith in the life, ministry,
and witness in the Presbyterian Church (USA), has issued the following guidance to inclusive churches that sponsor
boy scout troups.
Scouts biased against Gays -- What should Religious Sponsors Do?
With a U. S. Supreme Court decision allowing the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to continue its policy of discrimination
against gay persons' participation in the scouting movement many questions are being raised -- by scouts, their
families, and by local scouting leaders. Serious questions are also emerging concerning the continued sponsorship
and financial support for the BSA by religious organizations, United Way programs and school boards around the
What should religious groups that sponsor scout troops, yet care deeply about justice and inclusiveness, do in
view of this biased stance of the BSA? There appear to be two basic positions to take:
1.STAY AND PROTEST WHILE SEEKING CHANGE
Religious leaders of sponsoring institutions should contact the leaders of affiliated scout troops or cub packs
to discuss the implications of the discriminatory policy. They should explain the faith community's commitment
to inclusiveness and encourage the scout unit to consider either a protest of the policy within scouting, or moving
out of scouting altogether. If the unit is willing to join the sponsoring religious group in a protest, then at
the time of the next annual charter renewal or sooner the scout unit and/or its religious sponsor should issue
a public statement protesting the BSA policy with regard to gays' participation and declaring that the troop will
not adhere to this discriminatory policy. They should also call for the policy to be rescinded. No one knows what
actions might ensue or whether the troop or sponsor might be disciplined in some way. But the more protests of
this kind that are generated the better the possibility that the message might get through to the BSA national
leadership with at least an outside chance of reversal of the policy.
2. LEAVE THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA FOR AN ALTERNATIVE PROGRAM.
It is quite feasible to arrange an alternative lodgment of the local troop or pack in a program similar to scouting.
This would also be a way to go if the BSA does terminate the charters of troops which officially protest the policy
or declare their intention of ignoring it. Already in certain parts of the country several former scout troops
and cub packs have transferred to membership in the national program known as Camp Fire Boys and Girls (http://www.campfire.org).
Established in 1910 Camp Fire Boys and Girls states as one of its core values: "We are inclusive, welcoming
children, youth and adults, regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation
or other aspect of diversity." The YMCA IndianGuides program could be another alternative. Whenever such a
transfer is arranged, notice of that action needs to be communicated to the national and local headquarters of
the BSA and publicized locally.
Remaining in scouting without advocating change means colluding with the discrimination of the BSA. Inclusive faith
communities can not in good conscience do that.
WHAT ARE RELIGIOUS GROUPS DOING?
Scouting is strongly intertwined with religious organizations. In 1998 61% of its units were sponsored by religious
institutions. Around the country many religious institutions have taken action to protest the scouting policy.
The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has officially encouraged the BSA to allow membership to youth and
adult leaders irrespective of their sexual
orientation and has asked churches which host scout units to open a dialogue with unit leaders, scouts and their
parents regarding discrimination against scouts and leaders on the basis of sexual orientation. Both the Unitarian
Universalists and the United Church of Christ have raised concerns about the irreconcilable differences in the
values of the BSA and the congregations which offer sponsorship. Reformed Jewish leaders have urged parents to
withdraw their children from Boy Scout troops and packs and encourage synagogues to end their sponsorship because
of the exclusion of gays.
WHAT ARE COMMUNITIES AND SCHOOL BOARDS DOING?
In many areas of the nation, United Way and similar community funding agencies have taken action making scouting
units no longer eligible for receiving funding through their programs. School boards have also withdrawn from making
their facilities available for scouting use in a number of localities.
THE "SCOUTING FOR ALL" MOVEMENT
A well organized and useful resource coordinating protests of the scout policy is available in support of those
wishing to work to change the policy or otherwise to protest or find workable alternatives. It is called Scouting
For All (http://www.scoutingforall.org), based in Petaluma California
and organized by Steven Cozza, a teen age eagle scout and his dad, Scott Cozza. Protests at scout headquarters
have been organized widely over recent months and many adults who had achieved the coveted rank of eagle scout
as young men have turned in their eagle badges in protest.
While staying and protesting is certainly a valid approach, many in the know see little hope of turning the national
BSA leadership around.After all they spent many years and a tremendous amount of money to fight their discriminatory
case all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. Thus religious sponsors and their troops and packs may well want to
give serious attention to
finding a satisfactory alternative.
- Statement from More Light Presbyterians
March 7, 2001